CES: The First Step Towards Takings Risks is Admitting Things Have Changed
In 2012, Ilva Ozin of Inc. asked a CES exhibitor about the cost of attending CES.
- $20,000: Space on the convention center floor
- $50,000: Booth rental
- $20,000 - $30,000: Booth design
- $5,000: Booth set-up
- $5,000 - $10,000: Product giveaways for show attendees
- $5,000 - $10,000: Staff expenses
- $2,000 - $4,000: Travel expenses
- $1,000: Wi-Fi access (that's per day and it ain't that great)
- Want to meet the press? That can go as high as $10,000.
- TOTAL: ~$150,000
And keep in mind that this is not for a big booth, but an average-sized display. If your company can afford to bring a celebrity to CES – anyone from Miss East Coast 2013 to Pharrell Williams – you should add a few extra thousands to that bill.
CES is obviously expensive. However, I will not say that putting that much money into attending is a bad investment. A few of the companies that can afford to make noise at CES do get noticed by consumers, covered by reporters, but they also get to work under the pressure of the high expectations they set at the show. Heavy lies the crown.
But for every company that succeeds at CES, there are dozens that get crushed by the experience. However, an article by TechCrunch East Cost Editor John Biggs struck a chord with me as a sign of things slowly changing at CES, creating opportunities for innovative companies that are not afraid to do things a little bit differently in order to break through the noise and build relationships with journalists who will care to follow their growth – Pebble is a perfect example.
This year, TechCrunch has a booth out on the CES parking lot where people with and without badges can approach the team to show them the gadgets coming out of their small design houses. Even Quentin Hardy of The New York Times advised colleagues to find the smallest booth in the cheapest floor space to find the hidden gems.
Tip to CES journalists: find the smallest booth in the cheapest floor space. There's probably something around there worth attention.— Quentin Hardy (@qhardy) January 7, 2014
It seems that for companies considering CES as a stage to debut innovations, the good news is that reporters and influencers understand that there is another CES taking place off-stage – away from the keynotes, the exhibition halls, heck… the convention center, that is worth paying attention to.
Increasingly, the better strategy may be to hang out in the periphery and look for those who want to find you. Take a chance and don’t bring a random celebrity with you, don’t kill yourself to organize a party that few will attend, don’t pre-schedule dozens of tweets that fail to connect with audiences. Understand that things have changed and that, as much as the technology industry enjoys the overuse of the word “disruptive,” the goals is still to be able to connect, but do to so in a way that is a little bit daring, a lot more refreshing, but still seamless.
They say change is good, but I say only if you’re willing to take risks.